Image above: View of the landmark Orto Botanico di Padova at the University of Padova, the oldest academic botanical garden in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Padova, Veneto, Italy.     photo © EQRoy /

The botanical garden of Padua, founded in 1545, is the oldest botanical garden in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The botanical garden of Padua, founded in 1545, is the oldest botanical garden in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Medicinal plants formed the bulk of the “simple” medicine from nature. For this reason, the original name of the garden was “Giardino dei Semplici”.

Due to the rarity of the plants it contained and the high price of the medicines obtained from them, the garden was often the object of nocturnal thefts, despite the strict legal penalties. For this reason, a circular enclosing wall was built, which is still visible today.

The garden was constantly enriched with plants from different parts of the world, especially from countries where the Republic of Venice had possessions or with which it traded; precisely for this reason Padua had a prominent position in the introduction and study of many exotic species.

The plants that were introduced for the first time in Italy through the Botanical Garden were many; among these the ginkgo biloba, magnolia, potato, jasmine, acacia and sunflower.

The Botanical Garden is located in the historic center of Padua, near the square Prato della Valle. The garden currently covers an area of almost 22,000 square meters and contains over 6,000 cultivated plants, gathering 3,500 different species that represent, albeit in reduced form, a significant part of the plant kingdom. All the plants kept in the garden bear a special label with the scientific name of the species, the family to which they belong, the initials of the cataloger who first described them, and finally the year of planting in the garden. In the garden, some natural environments have been reconstructed, such as: the Mediterranean scrub; alpine rock; freshwater environment; fat plants; tropical greenhouse. In the center of the botanical garden there is a basin for aquatic plants, fed by a stream of hot water from an underground aquifer.

Greenhouse, Botanical Garden, Basilica Santa Giustina, Padova, Veneto, Italy

View of the greenhouse of the botanical garden and the Santa Giustina church in the background. Padova, Veneto, Italyl (foto © ArdoPics /

In the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua there are some historical trees, such as the so-called “Goethe Palm”, planted in 1585: it is currently the oldest plant in the Botanical Garden. Or the first acacia introduced in Italy, from 1662, or the plane tree planted in 1680: a particularly imposing tree with the peculiarity of having a hollow trunk, a consequence of the activity of a fungus.

Since 1835, inside the Botanical Garden, there is a library that contains not only specialized books but also other material such as dry herbaria, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, historical plans and museum objects. The museum’s herbarium includes about 500,000 specimens from Italy, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas received since the end of the 18th century.
In October 2014, the new wing of the Botanical Garden was inaugurated, named the Garden of Biodiversity. Within this new, modern structure, more than 1,300 plant species are collected, originating from all climatic zones of the planet.

The Botanical Garden is located in Padua in the street Orto botanico, 15. The opening hours are: From November to March open from Tuesday to Sunday and on all holidays from 9 am to 5 pm. In April open every day from 9 am to 7 pm. Closed on Mondays. From May to September open from Tuesday to Sunday and all holidays from 10 am to 7 pm. Closed on Mondays. In October, open Tuesday through Sunday and all holidays from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Mondays.

The price of the ticket is 10 € and there are discounts. Apart from being a mandatory stop for lovers of botany and science in general, this site is located in beautiful Padua in the Veneto region, a city rich in art and history and definitely worth a visit.

Text: Luca ©

Piazza Prato della Valle, Basilika Santa Giustina, Padova, Veneto, Italy.

View of the canal with statues in Prato della Valle square and the Basilica of Santa Giustina in Padova (Padua), Veneto, Italy. (foto ©